Huge Rise in Crime Hits Wealthy Suburb

By Campbell, Jeremy | The Evening Standard (London, England), February 28, 2001 | Go to article overview

Huge Rise in Crime Hits Wealthy Suburb


Campbell, Jeremy, The Evening Standard (London, England)


Byline: JEREMY CAMPBELL

Huge rise in crime hits wealthy suburb

The death of TV viewing standards JACKO checks into hospital for a tummy ache." "The steamy truths about Nicole and Russell Crowe." "Killer told me: you'd taste like a nice piece of roast pork." These are a few of the headlines which shriek at me as I queue at my supermarket checkout from this week's shocker, the tabloid National Enquirer. But the loudest banner of all is about a story to arouse the envy of the most respectable, even fastidious Pulitzer prize-winner - live broadcasts of executions on TV.

"Consider the scenario," said television historian Steve Stark. "Just as a story that breaks in a supermarket tabloid makes its way into mainstream journalism, within hours it would take only one media organisation willing to televise an execution to shatter the taboo. If one outlet carries it, it would end up everywhere." Stark said that standards didn't exist any more.

"They went out of the window when we went from three TV networks to 55."

Even though Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh himself has asked for his execution to be broadcast, at the moment no major outlet is pressing for permission to televise the event. But the question has passed from the unmentionable to the stage of actual discussion.

Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News is reported to be "still deciding" its policy and will put it to a board meeting next month.

"I don't know if it will happen with McVeigh," said Carl Gottlieb, who runs a journalism watchdog office.

"But it will happen. McVeigh is a public figure connected to the worst act of terrorism on American soil. It would be a piece of history and an end to a horrible event."

TV news broadcasts already show corpses, Aids victims in their last agonies or people crashing their cars. A Boston station recently broke into its regular programming with live coverage of a police chase of a trucker which could easily have ended in someone's ghastly demise.

There is a convergence here. As mainstream media goes increasingly tabloid, the tabloids are pursuing legitimate stories more tenaciously and thoroughly than their upmarket nonpeers.

A month ago the Enquirer shook Washington with its revelation that Jesse Jackson has an out-of-wedlock child. "The hottest publication in America right now is the National Enquirer," says the Washington Post's media critic Howard Kurtz. …

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